As we work on some of our larger projects, we are producing tools for them that might be useful to others of you on campus as well. The virtual tours and the next generation of the mobile site will rely heavily on web services to retrieve the data that gets presented on the page. We see this method as preferable to hard-coded database lookups because it separates data retrieval from presentation. We will be able to change the back end however we want and all we’ll have to do to keep the application running is rewrite the web service to pull the same data in the same format from the new location. This then lets us write several client applications that pull from the same web service and know that a single change won’t require us to rewrite them all.
It also means that we can share more content with the rest of you on campus. In many ways these web services will act as data feeds that allow you to consume our data. The first of these comes from our work on the virtual tour site. It enables us to pull calendar event links for particular buildings on campus. Right now the information is limited, but it could easily be expanded if need be. Feel free to try the service, and use it wherever it could be helpful.